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Review: The Adjustment Bureau

PUBLISHED: 17:03 04 March 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau

Archant

The Adjustment Bureau is a difficult film to discuss without spoiling because most of what it has going for it is the plot.

Despite the “Bourne meets Inception” quote on the poster and trailer that has cunningly hacked together a frantic running around sequence towards the end to make it look like a breathless thriller, this is really more like an episode of the Twilight Zone. (Or a more prosaic, down to earth version of The Key.)

Taken from a Philip K Dick story it’s about an aspiring politician (Matt Damon) named David Norris who one day accidentally gets to see the secret forces that run our lives, the secret troop of grey men in hats who ensure that events on earth follow The

Plan.

Unfortunately, The Plan necessitates that he must not stay with the girl of his dreams, Emily Blunt.

The film is far from perfect but the Manhattan landmarks are used well and there is nice disparity between the two stars who cut contemporary, dare I say liberal, figures and the forces ranged against them who are like McCarthy era G-men.

What makes the movie distinctive is that in exploring the conflict between free will and predetermination, the plot seems to set the rules in opposition of the Hollywood convention that love is valued above all else and that the hero must be the architect of his ultimate triumph.

Here, without hopefully revealing too much, I’d say that in the central dilemma posed to the hero the wise, heroic choice would be to do the opposite of what the conventional Hollywood leading man would do.

So the tension of the film (and it keeps it up to almost the very last moment) is that you don’t know if it is clever or silly. Does it have the free will to come up with something bold and unexpected or will it ultimately bow to the predetermined finale of all Hollywood entertainments?

The Adjustment Bureau (12A)

Director: George Nolfi

With: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp, Anthony Mackie and John Slattery

Length: 106 mins

***

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